The Beauty Issue

 

Here’s a secret. I hopped on the online dating bandwagon and I’ve been on it for four months now. The most recent guy I was exchanging messages with, let’s call him Ambrosio, asked for a photo of me without my sunglasses on. That was three days after we ‘liked’ each other. So I asked for his number and sent him a message on Viber so he can see me sans sunnies. He never got back to me. That git!

I was insulted at first. His dating app photo didn’t even show his face, hiding behind the excuse he’s an introvert so only a quarter of his face was shown. For all I know, he could be married or a high profile fugitive on the run from Duterte’s goons.

And then there’s this guy, Pancho. I like him, not digitally this time. We met through common friends and went on group outings a few times but I couldn’t tell if the feeling was mutual. But because he has a girlfriend, I guess it’s not.

But it felt like there’s something deeper with Pancho. I flirted with the idea that he could be the travel souvenir I’ve been looking for, like the rarest, most expensive magnet for our fridge or the finest tapestry for our living room wall. And he’s just right here in the Philippines! How serendipitous. Our connection was so unexpected I was surprised by how easily I became friends with this guy. It was frustrating, however, to learn the type of women he likes and in my mind, whenever our conversations veer into relationships and beauty standards, I was already doing a Meredith Grey urging him to instead pick me. Choose me. Love me. And leave the busy, pabebe girlfriend for good.

Errrr yes, that was asking for the moon and stars. I cannot compete. His girlfriend and I are total opposites and unfortunately for me it appears he’s more into girls with big boobs and contouring skills—those who cannot wait to look older than their ages.

So these two brushes with men boys actually made me question my worth. It got me feeling ugly and unwanted and my confidence smashed. I was blindsided. I thought with all the empowering things I’ve done I am already immune to body and self-esteem issues.

For several weeks I hated my body. I loathed my rice belly that I used to be so proud of. My sagging, old lady skin and puffy eyes grossed me out. And when I looked at myself in the mirror I only saw a wrinkly and grim face like a forlorn widow’s.

To compensate for these negative feelings, I drafted a workout plan to get all excess tummy fat out of me so I can wear cute bikinis when I go to the beach. I wanted to post photos of me when I was younger, back when my face wasn’t marred by losses and awful relationships. I needed to prove that I am also beautiful and sexy. I badly needed reassurance. But I ended up emotional-eating, chowing down all leftover sweets from Christmas, stalking Pia Wurtzbach on Instagram and wallowing in self-pity as the somber rainy weather wore on.

With all my other worries like being jobless and homeless by the end of March, I thought I was plummeting towards depression once again. Gladly, I wasn’t. After a tear-jerking pep talk with great friends one weekend, I got to end that pity party I started before it turned into a festival.

I found a hundred things to hate about myself but chose to ignore the thousands of good things about me. I’m never told beautiful or gorgeous by the people I want to hear it from but what matters now is I continue to overcome that broken state I’ve been in and out of for last four years. There is more to beauty than perfectly drawn eyebrows and to sexiness than cleavage-bearing outfits or gyrating dance moves in the club.

Not all men can and will appreciate the beauty without layers of foundation and concealer, behind the sweat trickling down a girl’s face after running a half-marathon or the purple lips from exposure in the unforgiving cold. But I made it a habit to tell myself this: Only a stronger man can love a strong woman like you. It’s a daunting perspective. It might even be impossible to find a stronger man out there but I’m a sucker for serendipity and life just might surprise me with someone I truly deserve.

Ambrosio and Pancho both evaporated like sweat under the Arizona sun. Ambrosio probably back to hunting eligible women on dating apps (I hope he had a nice date last Tuesday) and Pancho maybe spending on a dinner/movie or out-of-town date with the girlfriend.

I went out for a drink with my friends on Valentine’s day, by the way. It was just like any other Tuesday, only there was no badminton practice.

PS:

To Pancho, if you ever come across this post, I have something to tell you. Go see the world, better on your own. Grow up and experience life outside your sheltered neighborhood. Only then will you realize that there is indeed beauty in ruin.

Then tell me about your journey if we see each other again.


 

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